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Natasha Sharma_Shah Jahan and the Ruby Robber

Natasha Sharma_Shah Jahan and the Ruby Robber

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Natasha Sharma_Shah Jahan and the Ruby Robber

Can you tell us about your years growing up?

I spent a part of my school years in Amritsar, growing up in a household that consisted of six adults and forty animals. I finished my high school education from Welham Girls, Dehradun and went on to graduate in Math from Lady Shri Ram College, Delhi. I then pursued an MBA went on to work in the corporate world for a few years and eventually got to writing for children.
At many stages of my years as a student, the decision on what to do next was driven by a combination of knowing what I didn’’t want to do, picking something I loved as a subject to study (math in college), not quite knowing what I wanted ahead, not entirely aware of all the options that existed and to some extent going with the flow till I figured it all out!
A few years ago, I finally did figure it out and discovered that writing is what I love.

How did you start writing for children?

The series had the strangest origin in a writing workshop conducted by the publisher of the series – Duckbill books. We had to pick a genre we hadn’’t written in, pick an age group we wanted to write for and then pick a prop out of a bag and write a short piece with a key element connected to the prop. I picked historical fiction, an age group of 8-12 years and pulled out a sock! Cups of coffee, chewed pencil ends and fretting over night led to the first glimmer of Akbar and the Tricky Traitor. The publishers were kind enough to offer me a series to build upon that idea.

Do you think publishers are focusing more on children’s books these days?

I don’t quite know! There are new independent publishers, big houses bringing India-specific children’s lists, more writers writing in a range of subjects, many new illustrators and all I can say is that it’s wonderful. This, even while physical book stores are disappearing but online availability has grown. If I were to guess, I’’d say that it is a result of more interest and awareness on how wonderful reading is as habit, being promoted by schools and parents and bolstered by a lot more reading material accessible to everyone than when we were growing up.

Is there anything in particular that you need to keep in mind while writing for children?

I feel particularly responsible on cross checking my facts when I write the History Mystery series in particular. While they are historical fiction, the books are full of facts and what is factual is detailed at the end of the book. If I refer to any facts in any other book, I take the same care. I’’d assume you would have to do the same checks when you write for adults as well if that is a principle you abide by.
Other than that, writing for children allows you to be so mad and whacky that pressure doesn’’t seem like a word I’’d use. Responsibility, yes.

What do you like most about this series?

Shah Jahan and his passion for all things good. His interest in architecture, the arts and the wealth of the Mughal empire under his reign made for a rich background. I loved the idea of setting a mystery centred around the Peacock throne which is a mystery in itself and highlighting another precious gemstone from that throne.

About the Interviewee:

Natasha Sharma'’s childhood had crazy episodes, featuring dogs, rabbits, ducks, guinea pigs, horses, buffaloes and the occasional squirrel, all in her backyard. Though she considered being a veterinarian or an architect, she graduated in Math, did an MBA, worked as a brand manager and is now happily doing what she loves most, writing books for children.